Rogers-Ruiz battery brings dynamic energy

September 22nd, 2021

MIAMI -- Deep starts have been hard to come by for the Nationals this season. On Tuesday, left-hander paired up with catcher to throw a 7 2/3-inning gem en route to a 7-1 win over the Marlins at loanDepot park.

Rogers threw 103 pitches while allowing one run on five hits (one homer) and two walks and recording four strikeouts. He improved to 2-0 with a 2.16 ERA and hit career highs in innings and pitch count.

“It was awesome,” Rogers said. “I felt really good tonight. … I just tried to work fast, attack the zone and let the defense play -- and that they did tonight again, so shoutout to them.”

Tuesday marked Rogers’ fourth start with the Nationals since the team selected his contract from the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings on Sept. 4. To manager Dave Martinez, his tenure feels a lot longer, noting, “He keeps everybody on their toes.” For Rogers, who was released by the Orioles earlier this season, he’s settling in with his new club.

“I hope that they like me as much as I like them, because I’m having a good old time with all the guys here,” Rogers said with a smile. “I really love it here, and I’m just trying to make the most of my opportunity.”

Rogers and Ruiz worked together in Triple-A before both were promoted, and Rogers previously credited the young catcher with helping him reach the success that ultimately led to his promotion.

“I was pumped to get him behind there tonight, and we picked up right where we left off in Rochester,” Rogers said. “It was a lot of fun working with my boy back there. He’s awesome.”

Said Ruiz: “It was fun catching him. I love the way he pitches. He’s got a great energy on the mound, and everything was working. He had a good changeup today, the fastball was there and the more important thing, I think he was not scared to throw a strike, just attacking the hitters. We were getting good outs.”

In addition to calling a solid game behind the plate, Ruiz -- ranked the Nationals’ No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline -- continued his recent hitting tear. He went 2-for-5 with one RBI and one run scored, extending his multihit streak to four of his last five games. Ruiz also has hit safely in five of his last seven contests.

Martinez described Ruiz’s bat-to-ball skills as “really, really impressive.” The skipper also noted Ruiz’s ability to foul off tough pitches and put the ball in play. Ruiz credited his pregame work with hitting coach Kevin Long for the results.

“He made a little bit of adjustments,” Martinez said. “He’s staying back a little bit better, he’s a little bit more upright from the top half and it seems to be working out. He’s doing well.”

A late-September game like Tuesday's is important for looking ahead to next season, when Ruiz is poised to be the everyday starting catcher and Rogers is vying for a spot in the rotation.

“[I’m] super pumped and not taking anything for granted,” said Rogers. “Just continue to get better and earn my way around here is what I want to do.”